The blog known as Editorial Ass (which is short, of course, for “Assistant”) is written by an anonymous editor in NYC who identifies herself only as MoonRat. It’s linked over in the “Touchstones” category.
A recent post there, on the surface, was stimulated by a lecture, which MR attended, given by one Jonathan Karp, one of those uber-powerful “publisher/editors” who have been given their own imprints; his is called Twelve. The hook for Twelve — what distinguishes it from nearly all other publishers nowadays — is its emphasis on quality over quantity. The imprint’s name highlights the main rule: it publishes exactly twelve titles a year, one a month, and since publishers’ catalogs are issued to book buyers every quarter, this means that each new catalog from Twelve features exactly three books.
This is both exhilarating and scary as crap.
Exhilarating, because — although unlikely to become a widespread trend — the focus is great for readers.
And scary as crap because — although unlikely etc. — the focus means that only the very best writers and books (at least in a given editor’s eyes) can “make the cut.” No slacking. No room for “good enough.”
Of course, we now live in a world (e-books, print-on-demand, and so forth) where the barriers to entry for a new book in some form are lower. So — even if likely etc. — the “good enough” work will still have an outlet.
Still… If you’re a writer, you don’t even have to think twice about the answer to these questions: are you good enough for a highly selective publisher? if not, why not? are you satisfied with a “good enough” publisher? why?
See what I mean? Scary.